6 January 2014

City centre 'oasis' to complement London Road regeneration

Plans to make permanent improvements to the public space in front of St Bartholomew’s Church in Brighton will be put before councillors next week.

They include opening up Providence Place Gardens for people to sit and relax, a new street frontage along Providence Place, and the creation of a ’pocket square’ at the bottom of Ann Street with public seating.

The aim is to create an oasis for people living, working and visiting the area, which is an important pedestrian route between Brighton Station and London Road.

Councillor Pete West, chair of the environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “Suggestions for improving the space in Providence Place and Ann Street have come from local people. They want to see a more attractive and welcoming environment. It’s an under-used part of the city which many people don’t know about or avoid. Enhancing it will help bring people in and contribute to the economic growth of London Road.”

Improving the space in front of the imposing St Bartholomew’s Church is part of the wider regeneration of the London Road area which includes the Open Market, restoration of The Level open space, redevelopment of the former Co-Op department store, new workspace in New England House, the Portas pilot in London Road and the Brighton station area developments.

The scheme, called the ’Common Room,’ was made possible because Brighton & Hove City Council won European funding from the INTERREG IVB-assisted ‘Lively Cities’ project which includes similar schemes in Aberdeen, Lille and Eindhoven.

Seven resident parking spaces and four Blue Badge disabled parking bays will be relocated nearby and HGV movements restricted to improve safety and create a more pleasant environment whilst allowing deliveries to local shops.

During the latest consultation in October and November, 65% of respondents said they did not use the parking facilities in the area and 80% said they did not hold either a Blue Badge or resident parking permit. The consultation also asked people to suggest nearby areas where parking could be relocated. There will be alternative arrangements for HGVs to enable them to make deliveries.

Temporary changes to the space, which included these restrictions, were successfully piloted over two weeks last October. Opening up the park by removing fencing and putting in steps and seating, and the new mini square in Ann Street received strong support. People also liked the lighting of the trees and the church after dark, greenery and planting, and the increased space for pedestrians and cyclists.

Councillors will decide whether to go ahead with permanent improvements at the next meeting of the environment, transport and sustainability committee on 14 January.

If agreed, the improvements will be introduced in phases, with Phase One beginning in spring 2014.

Further information

The INTERREG IVB-assisted ‘Lively Cities’ programme is a four year project aimed at strengthening communities by reclaiming public space for public use.

The Providence Place Forum was set up in 2011 from local community representatives to help guide the project.

Read the reports for the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee

The report about Providence Place and Ann Street is agenda item number 70.

Find out more about Brighton & Hove's Lively Cities project